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How to Use Deliberate Practice (to Achieve Greatness in Guitar or ANYTHING ELSE)

How to Use Deliberate Practice (to Achieve Greatness in Guitar or ANYTHING ELSE)

practicing guitarIf you are reading this article, you probably want to either learn to play guitar or to learn to play guitar better.? Good for you!? You have the desire!? That desire plus understanding and using ?deliberate practice? will guarantee your success in guitar–or anything else.

Good Practice is Good…and Bad Practice is BAD

Aristotle said, ?we are what we repeatedly do.?? If you wish to be a guitar player, you must pick up your guitar, on a regular basis, and play.? There is no other way.? But–and this is important–practice time doesn?t automatically lead to improvement!? Poorly spent practice time will give you poor results. Only effective practice will give you the improvement you desire.? This principle was famously expressed by coach Vince Lombardi who said ?Practice does not make perfect–perfect practice makes perfect.?? Understanding the basics of how to successfully practice are even more important to your eventual success in guitar (or anything) than knowing a ?D chord? (or any fundamental move of any art, sport, science or discipline)!? This is especially true of NYC Guitar School students, who tend to be very busy people.? You don?t have the time to not practice effectively!

?Deliberate Practice? Is The Best Way To Become A Good (or Great) Guitar Player

Science and research reveal that the secret of successful practice is to practice deliberately!? Deliberate practice is what makes the greats great in music, sports, art, and just about anything else that requires deep knowledge and deeply ingrained physical habits.? The classes at NYC Guitar School are designed to aid, abet and elicit deliberate practice.? According to one of my favorite books, Talent Is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin, successful deliberate practice has four components:

  1. It is specific.? Too often, guitar students achieve a merely modest level of ability which is far below what they are capable of, because they only practice what they already know how to do, or because they practice everything at once–for example, only playing songs to the exclusion of working on specific techniques or moves.? In deliberate practice, the practitioner focuses on one thing at a time–something they don?t already know–and works to master it.
  2. It is sequential.? Each element builds on previous elements and in turn are themselves building blocks for future elements. NYC Guitar School?s classes have been carefully designed to progress gradually and methodically from the very basics of guitar playing to more complicated techniques.? The elements in each class build on previous classes and in turn provide the foundation for future classes.
  3. It includes feedback from a mentor or coach.? The greats learn from others, and if you want to be great you need to learn from others, too!? Ideally you receive regular feedback from a teacher in a class or lesson.? But in music there is another way to receive feedback: it is by playing along with recordings of songs you love!? If you are in rhythm with the recording, that is positive feedback.? If your guitar part sounds similar to the rock star guitar part that is also positive feedback.? And…if you can?t keep up with the song, that is negative feedback, which is telling you to master the technique more slowly before coming back to the song!
  4. ?It is highly demanding mentally.? Deliberate practice takes time, effort and attention. It is the price which must be paid for being your best at your level, whatever that is.? For maximum effect, make sure that whatever you are practicing is at the intersection of what is challenging yet achievable.? During deliberate practice, you should be able to accomplish whatever you are practicing perfectly only with total focus.? If you cannot do the technique perfectly even with total focus, you must make the exercise easier, slower, or more broken down.? If you can easily accomplish the task, then you must make the exercise


Start Practicing Deliberately Right Away

The more deliberate practice you get in, the faster you?ll improve.? For most people, three 30 minute practice sessions per week is a bare minimum to ensure steady improvement in guitar.? For some people, more sessions are needed, but for anyone more better practice is…more and better!? Of course, you have a busy life full of many responsibilities and joys besides guitar playing.? Given your particular circumstances and goals, just do your best!? After all, nobody can do better than that!

Make Your Practice Routine A Regular Part Of Your Life

As you commit to regular practice, try to set a regular place and time for your routine, so that you can let the force of habit help you maintain your new habit.? Leave your guitar out, if possible, in a place where you can see and grab it easily.? Come to class, and ask your classmates about their week of practice, then share yours.? The more you make playing guitar part of your life, the more natural and effective your practice will be.

Plan Now to Experience Setbacks Which Will Require Resiliency

I promise you that something will get in the way of your practice routine!? I don?t know what it is, but I here are some guesses:? Sometime in the next ten, or fifty weeks you may get the flu or a bad cold…or your child or parent will.? You may have to work late or go out of town on business.? You may fall in love or break up, you may even elope or have a child!? There may be a blackout or hurricane or severe winter storm.? You may be hurrying to class late, with a headache, and then be caught in rain storm two blocks from school.? The neck may snap off your guitar, or a string may break.? I don?t know what will happen…but I know it will!? Expect one of these normal and usual calamities to happen, and plan for it.? If you miss a class or two, or if you don?t practice for a week or two, that is OK…simply begin again from wherever you are at!

Remember, Deliberate Practice Isn?t Just For Guitar–It?s For Anything In Your Life Which You Want To Improve!

The research is clear:? deliberate practice is the way the greats become great.? Whether you?re playing guitar, learning a language, or improving work or social skills, if you want to improve, then break it down, master one element at a time, seek coaching, and focus!? If you WANT to do it, then make a plan and GO DO IT!

by Dan Emery, NYC Guitar School Founder





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